There it was again, a dimpled rise. Crouching low, I flicked the line out, stopping the cast abruptly to put some slack into the leader. It was good, landing a rods length above the now diminishing circles; the small dry fly bobbed and twirled on the current. There was a flash of color, a sip and in a blink the fly was gone leaving a tiny bubble as its legacy.
Instinctively I lifted the rod; the resistance was immediate as the taut line cut a path across into the fast water. A short, gallant fight and it was all over. I peered at him in my hand, a small — but that didn’t matter — fin-perfect brown trout with its unique pattern of crimson spots on butter-gold flanks. I was in my element, just the kind of flyfishing I enjoy; small streams and wild trout — preferably Browns.
We had hiked into the mountains the day before, now four hours from any human habitation and three days of fishing ahead on the tiny streams tucked away in the deep folds of the earth below the towering Drakensberg escarpment rising to over 10,000 feet; a pristine wilderness with secret streams seldom visited by fly anglers, as clear as the mountain air and home to wild Brown and Rainbow trout, descendants of those introduced into these waters over 120 years ago. They hid in pockets, deep emerald slots, undercut banks and below overhanging vegetation – the perfect ultra light environment. In my hands a Sage 0wt TXL-F and Click reel. I have been through enough tackle in many years of fly fishing to not be persuaded by clever marketing and technological hype. I know when I stumble on something special – this was it.
It is light, perfectly balanced. If I had a reservation at first glance it was for the half wells grip, but that was soon allayed when I experienced the feel, comfort and sensitivity; casting was effortless aiding delicate and accurate presentation. Not only is the rod and reel pleasing on the eye, but it has a feeling of a symbiotic relationship. What it is, is a serious workhorse that allowed me to load the rod and to cast at ease right under my nose. Then when called for it has the muscle to push a long line, effortlessly turning over some lightly weighted flies on long leaders and even in less than perfect breezy conditions – in three words, looks, control and accuracy. In my on going search for the ultimate small stream ultra light rod, I think the TXL-F 0 WT comes as close as to what I believe to be perfection – in short, it is a gem.
I held the brown half-submerged into the flow and slipped the fly from his lip. For a brief moment he lay motionless, then, with a flick of his tail he was gone. As I worked my way back downstream to our camp, a spent sun dipped below the escarpment, air and water melded into the burnished bronze of an African sunset; around me the sights, sounds and pulse of an ancient land.